Rumours of an Apple car have been floating around for a while and Reuters, the international news organisation, has reported that Apple Inc is moving towards an electric car with self-driving technology and is hoping to have it ready for as soon as 2024. It will also include the company’s breakthrough battery technology.
Apple’s history with cars goes back as far as 2014 when the company designed an automobile from scratch. Things went off the boil a little then Doug Field, an Apple veteran who had worked at Tesla Inc, returned to work on the project in 2018, only to lay off 190 people from the team a year later.
Since then, Apple has progressed enough that it now aims to build a vehicle for consumers. At the centre of the project is a new battery design that’s said to massively reduce the cost of batteries and increase range. Apple aren’t commenting on the subject at the moment.
Despite the rumours it remains unclear who would produce the Apple car but sources expect the company to rely on a manufacturing partner. Two people with knowledge of Apple’s plans say the pandemic could delay production until 2025. The news has seen Apple shares rise by 1.24 percent following the leak.
The big news, which could be a game-changer, is Apple’s plan to produce a unique monocell battery. This bulks up the individual cells to free up space inside the battery pack by eliminating pouches and modules that hold battery materials, according to one of the sources that broke this news.
This design allows Apple to use a more active material packed inside the battery the can potentially offer a greater range. One of the sources also said that the company is also examining chemistry for the battery called LFP, or lithium iron phosphate. This is less likely to overheat making it safer than other types of lithium-ion batteries.
The one hurdle Apple will have to overcome to make a profit is to produce the cars in volume. One of the sources suggested the company would need to produce 100,000 vehicles annually to make things viable.
Trip Miller, managing partner at Apple investor Gullane Capital Partners, said: “It would seem to me that if Apple develops some advanced operating system or battery technology, it would be best utilised in a partnership with an existing manufacturer under license. As we see with Tesla and the legacy auto companies, having a very complex manufacturing network around the globe doesn’t happen overnight.”